Cincinnati Reds first baseman and franchise legend Joey Votto will be out of the team's Opening Day lineup for the first time since 2008. Votto is still working his way back from surgery he underwent last August to his left shoulder and bicep, and he'll begin the 2023 regular season on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Nashville.
Votto himself announced the news on Monday. It's not certain at this time how long Votto will require in order to be game-ready for the Reds.
As Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, Votto's current stretch of being in 14 straight Opening Day lineups for the Reds is tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history. "It saddens me because Opening Day means a lot to our city," Votto said. "It means a lot to me. This is just how it is shaking out this year. I'm trying to hustle back and get back in uniform as quickly as possible and help the team. It's just going to be a little bit later this year."
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Votto is coming off a disappointing age-38 season in 2022. In 91 games for the Reds, he slashed .205/.319/.370 with 11 home runs. As recently as 2021, however, he's performed at a high level. Votto, one of the greats in Reds franchise history and a possible future Hall of Famer, is entering the final year of his contract in 2023.
He's been a part of the Reds organization since they selected him in the second round of 2002 draft. It's not certain what the future beyond 2023 holds for Votto and Cincinnati, but a successful comeback from surgery, whenever that comeback begins, could move Votto to play at least another year and prompt the Reds to keep him in the fold.